Photography by Diane Dulgerian
The most successful brands tell a story about who they are and what owning a piece of their products does for your life.
Without a story behind your vintage brand, your goods are the same as if the shopper is visiting a flea market, thrift store or digging through their Grandma’s closet.
Your vintage shop needs to brand itself so that in the sea of sellers, you can differentiate your product from the rest, reaching the customer who sees themselves in your merchandising, models and curation of top-notch vintage finds. That’s why my e-book, the 100 Best Vintage Shops Online, is such a key resource for aspiring sellers to understand the value of branding.
Some vintage shops brand themselves as portals for finding the trends of the past to wear in a modern way today. Others brand themselves as destinations for pin-up princesses and rockabilly girls. Still others offer a collection of contemporary classics presented like a 21st century e-tailer with a taste for the nostalgia.
Choosing your branding should speak to your personal passions. You cannot authentically market a brand that doesn’t represent your personality, or the insincerity of your branding campaign will repel potential customers and ultimately, leave you unhappy and dissatisfied.
This week, I’ll be exploring the ways to brand your vintage shop and find the authentic voice which helps your products sing. Launching a vintage shop online is sharing a piece of your unique magic, and I’m so excited to help vintage sellers new and old discover why their passion for fashion is all they need for online e-commerce success!
To kickstart this series, Mandy Heth of Etsy shop Vintage Baubles & Bits shares how her grandfather’s influence and affections for her hometown inspired her store’s branding. After a year selling on Etsy, she believes that the key to connecting with customers so that they return to your shop lies entirely in how your shop makes them feel through the story you share.
How have you branded your shop? Who are your target customers?
Vintage Shop Branding: Hometown Inspiration
A vintage photo of a parade in Mandy’s hometown of Mount Victory, Ohio.
One of the things that Etsy HQ really drives home is to make your shop personal is to always tell your story—whether that be in your designs, in your profile or in your packaging materials.
Of all the things I’ve learned on Etsy, this is probably the piece of advice I’ve most taken to heart. Each piece of vintage has a history, it has a past and I like seeking it out and discovering something about each item I sell.
Every time I get a new piece I research the maker, the style, and where it was made, and I try to pass that little bit of history along to the next owner of the piece.
An Amish buggy from Mount Victory, Ohio. Mandy’s hometown has one of the largest old-order Amish populations in the country.
My Story Selling Vintage Online
A few months into my Etsy experience, I came to the conclusion that I wanted each of my buyers to feel the personal touch of my shop, to know that I’m a real person who sought out their new prize, saved it, cleaned it and made it ready for them.
To do this I designed a thank you notecard to be mailed with each of my orders. On the back of that notecard I tell my personal story, along with how and why I started collecting and then selling vintage.
A photo of the train station in Mandy’s hometown around the turn of the century.
What My Notecards Say:
Vintage Baubles & Bits started from a hobby that has slowly grown into a business. I grew up in rural Ohio in a very poor community and my family always struggled to make ends meet. When I was a teenager, my grandfather gave me a collection of Fenton glassware slippers that he had been amassing for years, because every time I visited the colors and designs amazed me.
For those of you who know the Fenton brand, you’ll know that the slippers were the least expensive pieces that were made; but for us, it was collecting something nice, worth treasuring. Since I received the collection I’ve been adding to it, which started my love of visiting thrift stores, antique malls and resale shops.
While perusing these shops I found more things I liked and never knew existed! My personal collections, which include West Virginia Glass Co. Blendo sets and vintage and antique purses, in addition to the Fenton slippers, started to grow. I realized how happy I was when I found these treasures and the wonder that came over me when I researched more about pieces that intrigued me. It was this wonder that lead me to wanting to provide this same feeling for others.
Thus, the birth of Vintage Baubles & Bits, a business focused on bringing all the pretty, girlie, beautiful things of the past a new life.
Mandy Heth’s grandfather at age 16.
Sharing The Story with the Man Who Inspired It
I’ve been sharing this personal story for over a year now with complete strangers, but I hadn’t shared this story with the very person who inspired it: my grandpa.
My grandpa was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. I only have a few months left to let him know what he means to me. In all the craziness of having a day job and a small business, I had forgotten to let him know how he inspired me.
My grandpa is a quiet man, always a bit reserved. In my childhood we never spent a lot of one-on-one time together. The story of the slippers happened on one night I remember sleeping over at his house—just me, none of my other siblings—and that one night was enough to spark a passion that I’ve had for over 15 years now.
If I do nothing else from my reflection on how a year on Etsy has impacted me, it will be to let my grandpa know what that single event meant to me and how I will continue to share his inspiration—my story—with everyone who shops with me.
About the Author
Mandy Heth is a purveyor of vintage fashion at Vintage Baubles & Bits who lives in Kansas City, Missouri.
She’s an Ohio girl at heart and hopes one day to live the original American dream of owning a building and living above her quaint vintage shop!
Visit Vintage Bits & Baubles!
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